hi·​a·​tus | \hī-ˈā-təs \

Definition of hiatus 

1a : a break in or as if in a material object : gap the weedy hiatus between the town and the railroad— Willa Cather the hiatus between the theory and the practice of the party— J. G. Colton

b biology : a gap or passage in an anatomical part or organ

2a : an interruption in time or continuity : break especially : a period when something (such as a program or activity) is suspended or interrupted after a 5-year hiatus from writing a summer hiatus

b : the occurrence of two vowel sounds without pause or intervening consonantal sound

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Did You Know?

Hiatus comes from "hiare," a Latin verb meaning "to gape" or "to yawn," and first appeared in English in the middle of the 16th century. Originally, the word referred to a gap or opening in something, such as a cave opening in a cliff. In the 18th century, Laurence Sterne used the word humorously in his novel Tristram Shandy, writing of "the hiatus in Phutatorius's breeches." These days, "hiatus" is usually used in a temporal sense to refer to a pause or interruption (as in a song), or a period during which an activity is temporarily suspended (such as a hiatus from teaching).

Examples of hiatus in a Sentence

The band is making an album again after a five-year hiatus. steam was rising from an hiatus in the ground

Recent Examples on the Web

Sophie’s Art Tour is on hiatus while Sophie Hughes is on a research sabbatical, but should be up and running again in 2019 (check sophiesarttour.com). Peter Jon Lindberg, Condé Nast Traveler, "Hanoi, Time and Again," 20 Nov. 2018 The girls may be on hiatus, but this song will live on forever. Noelle Devoe, Seventeen, "25 Spellbinding Songs That Are Perfect for Your Halloween Party Playlist," 29 June 2018 Woods' recent putting struggles, which began at the Wells Fargo Championship and have stubbornly persisted since, have prompted him to put his iconic Scotty Cameron on hiatus and give a Taylormade Ardmore 3 mallet a try. Daniel Rapaport, SI.com, "Tracking Tiger Woods as He Plays Thursday at the Quicken Loans National," 28 June 2018 The country duo — who went on hiatus to pursue solo ventures in 2012 — hasn’t released an LP since 2010. Jeff Nelson, PEOPLE.com, "Taylor Swift Is a Redhead in Sneak Peek of Sugarland's Mad Men-Inspired 'Babe' Music Video," 6 June 2018 Nearly two months after arriving in Chicago from Stockholm and making his debut with the Blackhawks, Ejdsell’s return home has been put on hiatus because of the success the Rockford IceHogs are having in the Calder Cup playoffs. Jimmy Greenfield, chicagotribune.com, "IceHogs forward Victor Ejdsell willing, ready to answer the call," 21 May 2018 Beast, which has been on hiatus, will bring back its popular Game Changer burger featuring cookie butter and spicy Asian slaw on a quarter-pound Indiana beef patty seasoned with Chinese five-spice. Liz Biro, Indianapolis Star, "Sun King distillery's food hall in Carmel puts the brewery's Hot Pockets days behind it," 8 May 2018 This year, the government gave the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the go-ahead to restart research into gun violence after a 22-year hiatus. Verge Staff, The Verge, "What the new Congress means for space, self-driving cars, and regulating Facebook," 7 Nov. 2018 In a surprising move, after a 35-year hiatus, Nevada ratified the ERA in 2017. Kate Kelly, Teen Vogue, "Why the United States Constitution Needs An Equal Rights Amendment," 29 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hiatus.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of hiatus

1563, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for hiatus

Latin, from hiare to yawn — more at yawn

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Dictionary Entries near hiatus



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hiba arborvitae

Statistics for hiatus

Last Updated

4 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for hiatus

The first known use of hiatus was in 1563

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More Definitions for hiatus



English Language Learners Definition of hiatus

: a period of time when something (such as an activity or program) is stopped


hi·​a·​tus | \hī-ˈāt-əs \

Medical Definition of hiatus 

: a gap or passage through an anatomical part or organ especially : an opening through which another part or organ passes (such as the opening in the diaphragm through which the esophagus and vagus nerves pass)

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More from Merriam-Webster on hiatus

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with hiatus

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for hiatus

Spanish Central: Translation of hiatus

Nglish: Translation of hiatus for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of hiatus for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about hiatus

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a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

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